Monday, January 9, 2012

Wintertime Sightfishing

The wintertime sightfishing along the Cape Fear Coast has been exceptional this year with the mild winter we have had so far.  The redfish are schooled up in the creeks and on shallow mud flats and the water is crystal clear.

On Friday I had anglers Brian and Jeremy on board for their first ever redfish trip. Brian and Jeremy are both accomplished anglers and have fished everywhere from their homestate of NY for trout and steelhead to Alaska, Belize, and the Bahamas. The goal for the day was to get each of the guys their first redfish, Brian with fly and Jeremy with spin rod. I knew it was going to be a good day when Brian told me has caught bonefish, tarpon, and permit on fly, as I knew his casting abilities would allow him many shots at fish and be able to deal with the wind. The day started out calm without a breath of wind and quickly warming temps. After arriving at our first spot, I gave Brian a fly rod rigged with Millers Mighty Minnow fly and Jeremy a rod with a Berkley Gulp shrimp. The fish in this location have been fished to quite a bit by other fisherman and very spooky so I wanted a fly that landed softly and a plastic lure with some scent in case they refused the fly. Within 40 yards of where we started we ran into the first group of around 30 fish laying on top of an oyster bar warming up in the morning sunlight. Unforturnatly they saw us first and spooked. We worked these fish for about an hour allowing them to calm down and then slowly approaching them again but they would never allow us in range with out spooking. We had been watching a small group of dolphins working the outside edge of the flat and assumed they were chasing redfish as well. I figured those dolphin were the reason these fish were spooked and decided it was time to find a fresh group of fish but told the guys keep their rods ready until we were off the flat. As I poled the boat towards where the dolphin had been splashing around earlier my boat accidently hit an oyster bar I tried to slide over. With that sound the water 50 ft. to our right errupted with about 60-70 redfish hiding in a small pocket of water behind the next oyster bar over. They were just laying there hiding from the dolphins until we spooked them. I instructed Jeremy to make a quick cast with the gulp while I spun the boat to give Brian a fly shot. Jeremy immediatly hooked up and with a quick flycast and a few strips a fish inhaled Brians fly. A Double hookup and each guys first ever redfish.  After a few pictures and a little celebration we began to look for the fish again. We ended up finding them but between us catching 2 of their buddies and pushing them out of their hiding spot from the dolphins patroling the edge of the flat  they were extremely spooky.  With the wind beginning to pick up I took the guys to another flat that has been holding a huge school of fish but when we arrived the SW wind had the water very choppy and dirty and made spotting the fish almost impossible. With the wind picking up and time running out we called it a successful trip and great way to start the 2012 fishing season.

The last week of 2011 I spent some time on the water friends Jimmy, Kary, and Kary's son Jake.
Kary, Jake, and I spent the 29th on the water duck hunting and fishing. Kary and Jake had never been duck hunting so I invited them down to hunt the saltmarsh in an area I had been seeing a few black ducks, gadwall, and buffleheads. Unfortunatly there wasnt much flying that morning but we did get to watch a small group of redfish swim in and around our decoys. To bad we didnt have a rod or camera, they were in the boat about 200 yards away. At one point I pulled the jerk string on the decoys and fish scattered in all directions in the decoys, it was a very cool sight. We decided to call the hunt and go chase some fish. We explored some new areas and found fish laid up warming in the sun and spooky so we left to find others. On the next group Kary made a cast to a fish cruising down the shoreline and the fish aggressively attacked the fly. On our way back we learned why the first school of fish were so spooky, they were being fished hard by other groups of fisherman. This brings up an important point, this time of year you shouldnt fish the same school to hard or they will become very spooky and move. You should catch a few and then move to the next school of fish.
On the last day of 2011 I joined friend Jimmy Wright for a short fishing trip on my old boat. Jimmy bought my previous skiff from me and it was nice to get out and fish on it again. With the wind blowing 15mph and forcasted to increase we knew we would be spending the day fishing protected creeks. We located a couple groups of fish and managed to get 4 redfish and a small speckled trout to finish up the year before having to get back and prepare for the new years celebrations.

Winter is the time to come fish the Cape Fear Coast if you want to sightfish large schools of fish in very clear water. Whether you're a fly or light tackle angler, don't hesitate to book your adventure.

Capt. Allen Cain